Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheerleader Pat

Vols’ newest cheerleader? Pat Summitt

Tennessee women’s coach sings ‘Rocky Top,’ stands on top of pyramid

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Pat Summitt wore an orange cheerleader uniform, sang “Rocky Top” and stood on top of a human pyramid to show her support of the Tennessee men’s basketball team Tuesday night.

The legendary Lady Vols coach came through on a promise to make a special appearance during the men’s game against No. 5 Florida.

She was paying back men’s coach Bruce Pearl for painting his upper body orange and cheering at a Lady Vols game last month.

Summitt came out during the first media timeout of the game shrouded by other cheerleaders and started singing “Rocky Top” while holding a microphone and wearing an orange and white feathery hat and cheerleader uniform.

At the end of the song, she put her hat on ESPN commentator Dick Vitale. Then she helped lead cheers with the cheerleaders and her assistant coaches and finished by being the top of a short pyramid formed by assistants Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood.

Summitt, 54, said Monday the appearance would seem “a lot out of character,” and she was right.

Summitt is known for working players hard in practice and her icy stare on the sidelines during games. She’s also the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history — men or women — with 940 victories.

“My cheerleading days are over. I did this for Bruce Pearl and his basketball team and all the Vols fans,” Summitt told ESPN after her appearance.

“This was fun. I’m glad my staff joined in.”

Summitt was a cheerleader in seventh and eighth grade.

Thompson-Boling Arena, which seats 24,535, was nearly full and included other notable personalities: Indianapolis and former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning came to see his alma mater, along with Volunteers football coach Phillip Fulmer.

Manning received a standing ovation when he was introduced in the first half.

Boston Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge accompanied his nephew, Vols quarterback Erik Ainge.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Parker, Summitt Gain SEC Honors

Birmingham, AL -- University of Tennessee sophomore basketball player Candace Parker was named the 2007 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, and head coach Pat Summitt picked up SEC Coach of the Year honors for the seventh time in her career, announced the conference office on Tuesday.

In her 33rd season at the helm of the UT program, Summitt has accumulated 940 wins – more than any other Division I coach in the history of men’s or women’s college basketball. In addition to her six NCAA Titles, seven SEC Coach of the Year Awards, seven NCAA Coach of the Year Awards and 16 NCAA Final Four appearances, the Henrietta, Tenn., native has coached 19 Kodak All-Americans, has a 100% graduation rate for student-athletes who exhaust their eligibility in Lady Vol uniforms and boasts two basketball courts and a gymnasium that bear her name.

“Anytime you are recognized by your peers it’s a great compliment,” said Summitt. “Those are the people for whom I have the utmost respect. I received this award because of this team and their commitment to being competitive and playing together game-in and game-out. I am fortunate to have a great staff that can teach and contribute in many ways to the success of our team and our program.”

A sophomore for the Big Orange, Parker leads her 2007 team in scoring (20.6 ppg), rebounding (9.8 rpg) and blocks (2.89 bpg). The 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year, first team All-SEC selection and SEC Tournament MVP, Parker becomes the first Lady Vol in program history to nab top-rookie and top-player honors in back-to-back years. Parker, Bridgette Gordon (1989), Dena Head (1992), Nikki McCray (1994, 1995) and Chamique Holdsclaw (1998, 1999) account for seven of the 21 Player of the Year Awards since the awards inception in 1987. Parker is the first Lady Vol to garner the award since Holdsclaw in 1999.

“I think Candace has really separated herself out this year with her play,” said Summitt. “That to me is a result of her hard work. Her opportunity to compete with the USA National Team at the FIBA World Championship this past summer gave her a different competitive environment, which I’m sure was a great challenge for her. She came back a better player. She’s made significant improvement this year from the beginning of the season to now.”

Parker, a native of Naperville, Ill., became the fastest player in UT history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. She edged Chamique Holdsclaw (57 games) by reaching the millennium mark in 56 career contests and with her 17th double-double of her sophomore campaign, surpassed the four-time Kodak All-American for most double-doubles by a second-year student-athlete in program history.

“I am honored,” said Parker. “This league has so many great players and teams, I feel so blessed to have been selected. I am fortunate to have incredible teammates and coaches who help me be a better person and player every day.”

In addition to POY, Parker earned first-team All-SEC honors for the second straight year. She is joined on the first team by junior Alexis Hornbuckle, who garners top-team honors for the first time in her career. Hornbuckle, a 5-foot-10 junior, was a second-team selection in 2006 and a unanimous All-Freshman selection in 2005. The Charleston, W. Va., native leads the team in assists (4.14 apg) and steals (3.34 spg) and ranks third in scoring (9.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.0 ppg).

“First and foremost, I’m happy to be part of this team,” said Hornbuckle. “Every time we step foot on the court, it is a team effort. It is a great honor to be named All-SEC, but I’m even more honored to be able to play and help my team.”

Sidney Spencer, a senior from Hoover, Ala., earned a spot on the second team. The reigning SEC Tournament MVP, Spencer led the nation in three-point field goal percentage the majority of the season. She currently ranks second in the league in beyond-the-arc accuracy (.435) and stands in seventh place for most treys made by a Lady Vol in a single-season. The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter boasts an 83.8 percent free throw percentage, which ranks her fourth on the UT career list. She was a third-team Academic All-Region IV selection by ESPN the Magazine earlier this season and finds time to volunteer in the greater Knoxville community, a feat which earned her a spot on the 2007 SEC Community Service Team.

Lady Vols have earned 66 spots on the All-SEC first and second teams since 1982, including 47 first-team accolades.

The 2007 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament begins Thursday, March 1, and runs through Sunday, March 4, in Duluth, Ga. SEC's regional sports network (FSN South, FSN Southwest and Sun Sports) will televise all games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday while ESPN2 will broadcast the championship game at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The complete 2007 SEC Women's Basketball Postseason Awards follow.

First Team All-SEC

DeWanna Bonner, Auburn
Tasha Humphrey, Georgia*
Sylvia Fowles, LSU*
Armintie Price, Ole Miss*
Alexis Hornbuckle, Tennessee
Candace Parker, Tennessee*
Dee Davis, Vanderbilt
Carla Thomas, Vanderbilt*

Second Team All-SEC
Lauren Ervin, Arkansas
Marshae Dotson, Florida
Cori Chambers, Georgia
Sarah Elliott, Kentucky
Samantha Mahoney, Kentucky
Quianna Chaney, LSU
Sidney Spencer, Tennessee
Caroline Williams, Vanderbilt

All-Freshman Team
Donica Cosby, Arkansas*
Jordan Greenleaf, Auburn
Ashley Houts, Georgia
Christy Marshall, Georgia
Angel Robinson, Georgia
Allison Hightower, LSU
Alliesha Easley, Ole Miss
Alexis Rack, Mississippi State*

Coach of the Year
Pat Summitt, Tennessee

Player of the Year
Candace Parker, Tennessee

Freshman of the Year
Ashley Houts, Georgia

Defensive Player of the Year
Armintie Price, Ole Miss

6th Woman of the Year
Christy Marshall, Georgia
Liz Sherwood, Vanderbilt

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Sarah Pfeifer, Arkansas

Time for Summitt to cheer for the men

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Now it's Pat Summitt's turn. Tennessee men's coach Bruce Pearl painted himself orange and cheered in the student section for the women's game against No. 1 Duke on Jan. 22. Pictures and video of Pearl were very popular online and on highlight reels for several days afterward.

Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said then she was planning a similar gesture for a men's game, and now her time has come.

Summitt and her staff are planning a special appearance during Tennessee's game Tuesday night against No. 5 Florida.

Summitt didn't want to say exactly what she is doing, but she's dropped hints by mentioning her days as a cheerleader in seventh and eighth grade.

"I might come back and perform with my staff," she said Monday.

Pearl is in on the secret.

"I know what Pat is doing, but I'm not at liberty to say," he said. "I think (fans) are going to love it, and I think America is going to see a side of Pat Summitt that they haven't seen in a long time."

Summitt noted the appearance will be "a little out of character, a lot out of character actually."

Summitt, 54, is known for working players hard in practice and her icy stare on the sidelines during games. She's also the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history — men or women — with 940 victories.

"I think people see me as being really serious, and I've just always been a kind of person that likes to have fun and do things like I'm going to do tomorrow night. But I usually don't do it on camera in front of the whole country," she said. "I figured, why not?"

Pearl had promised on a joint radio show with Summitt that he would do his stunt.

Before the Lady Vols game, Pearl stood in front of the student section with four players and a manager to spell out "GO VOLS" on their chests.

"It's all for Bruce. The fact that he and his guys painted their chests. He made that statement and generated a lot of excitement to the community and obviously brought a lot of exposure to the university and I respect Bruce," Summitt said. "From the time he's been here, he's been nothing but supportive of the women's program."

Summitt said she was surprised at some of the criticism Pearl got within the coaching ranks.

"You stop and wonder what kind of relationship do they have with their women's basketball coach?" she said. "Because here there is a mutual respect and friendship. We give and take on facility requests. He comes to our games. I go to his games."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

(2) Tennessee 73, (12) Vanderbilt 53

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee dominated the Southeastern Conference, and coach Pat Summitt believes the second-ranked Lady Vols should be rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Candace Parker had 21 points and 14 rebounds in Tennessee's 73-53 win over No. 12 Vanderbilt in the final regular-season game on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (27-2, 14-0) already wrapped up the league title and finished undefeated in the SEC for the eighth time.

"If we don't get a one seed now, I don't know what I'll do," Summitt said. "Last year we put ourselves in position. We lost two games that were costly, but right now regardless of what happens -- although we want to continue playing the way we've been playing -- we'll see how much it means to them to continue to win and win in this league when we get to SECs."

Summitt was mad last year after the Lady Vols won the SEC tournament and got a No. 2 seed. But they had lost three league games in the regular season.

The Commodores (24-5, 10-4) continue to struggle against their in-state rivals, losing for the 13th straight time despite enjoying their best season so far under coach Melanie Balcomb.

Shannon Bobbitt added 14 points, and Sidney Spencer had 10 for the Lady Vols after being honored at Senior Day.

Carla Thomas led the Commodores with 23 points.

Tennessee clinched its 14th SEC title after beating LSU on Feb. 19. It was the first for the Lady Vols since 2004.

Vanderbilt came into the game as the best 3-point shooting team in the nation and the second-best overall from the field. The Commodores were vying for a chance to finish second in the SEC and a higher seed in the NCAA tournament.

"I thought our defense would be a key and it was," Summitt said. "Their inside game did a lot of good things. Thomas I thought was terrific today, but in terms of the balanced attack, I thought we were able to do what we wanted to do."

The Lady Vols led most of the game but took over defensively in the second half. The Commodores, averaging 50.7 percent from the field, were held to a season-low 32.7 percent on 18-of-55 shooting.

Balcomb said Tennessee's defense Sunday was the best she had seen the Lady Vols play against Vanderbilt.

"They pressured the ball better than they had, took us out farther and took us out of our timing more than they had in the past," she said.

Vanderbilt used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 42-38 with 14:41 left. During the spurt, Tennessee was frustrated. Summitt walked onto the court to argue a foul called on Parker, and Nicky Anosike was whistled for a technical after picking up her third foul.

Spencer ended the drought for Tennessee with a 3 and sparked a 13-1 run. Parker converted a three-point play, and Bobbitt followed with one of her own. Then Parker grabbed a rebound and was fouled, prompting her to raise her arms at the crowd for more cheers. She made both free throws to put the Lady Vols up 55-39 with 12:17 left. Vanderbilt could not mount another rally.

"When they closed the gap and hit a couple of shots, we just came right back at them," Parker said. "We made big plays, and I think that's huge."

Parker missed on a dunk attempt with 2:41 left after a steal by Bobbitt.

Before the game, Tennessee seniors Spencer, Dominique Redding and Elizabeth Curry were recognized along with Vanderbilt's seniors Dee Davis, Caroline Williams and Thomas.

The Commodore seniors have never beaten Tennessee. Williams, the best 3-point shooter in country at 50.3 percent, was held to seven points and one 3-pointer.

Vanderbilt, shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range, was only 4-of-16 beyond the arc.

"We have three seniors that want it really bad, and sometimes that's a lot harder than just going out and playing," Balcomb said. "It's so mental in a rivalry between two teams that want to beat each other so badly."

The fouls started to mount for both teams in the second half. There were 17 total fouls called in the first eight minutes after halftime.

Tennessee finished 25-of-37 from the foul line while Vanderbilt was 13-of-20 with a total of 45 fouls called in the game.

Friday, February 23, 2007

(2) Tennessee 75, Arkansas 68, OT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- When Pat Summitt's Tennessee team trailed upset-minded Arkansas by nine points in the second half, the winningest coach in the game didn't panic.

She called her team together in a timeout, adjusted strategy and watched her second-ranked Volunteers go on a 10-0 run and eventually a 75-68 overtime win, Summitt's 939th as a coach.

"We figured out a way to win," Summitt said. "When this team puts its mind to it, they can be a great team."

Candace Parker scored 29 points and Alexis Hornbuckle added 12 points for the Vols. Hornbuckle made four straight free throws late in the extra period that sealed the win. Tennessee (26-2, 13-0 Southeastern Conference) extended its winning streak to nine.

Arkansas (18-11, 3-10) has lost eight in a row. The Razorbacks' previous two losses were by a combined 48 points.

Tennessee trailed 45-36 with 7:19 to play in regulation before switching to a full-court press and forcing three straight turnovers to take at 46-45 lead.

"We're Tennessee. We've been Tennessee for the last 33 years," Summitt said. "Every team in the country wants to beat us every night they play us. Nothing changes."

Arkansas coach Susie Gardner said the momentum swing was huge.

"There were a couple of situations where they were pressing us and we had some key, key turnovers back-to-back," Gardner said. "But we kept hanging around and found a way to get it into overtime, so I'm pleased with our effort."

Tennessee led 62-59 with less than 15 seconds left in regulation when Arkansas was forced to foul Bobbitt. The 5-foot-2 guard missed the front end of a one-and-one and Arkansas rebounded. Dominique Washington's 3-pointer missed, but the ball was knocked back to her for an open 3-pointer to tie it at 62. Parker's long shot at the end of regulation rimmed out.

Bobbitt had 15 points for Tennessee. Parker was virtually unstoppable inside, scoring 21 points after the half, including the first four of overtime as the Vols took the lead for good. Parker also had 17 rebounds and four blocks.

"We showed a lot of poise in this game," Parker said.

In overtime, the Vols took advantage of a tired Arkansas team that played without second-leading scorer Donica Cosby, who was suspended.

Washington scored 21 points -- all on 3-pointers -- for Arkansas. Tanisha Smith added 13 and Lauren Ervin 11.

The Razorbacks had 25 turnovers, including 10 by point guard Brittney Vaughn.

Arkansas' up-tempo game in the first half seemed to baffle the Vols. The Razorbacks took an early lead and maintained it. They were ahead 25-23 at the break.

"In the beginning of the game, there was an obvious commitment to go at us," Summitt said. "I expected that. This is one game I was very concerned about."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pat Summitt Q&A Transcript

Coach Summitt answers questions about the final two SEC regular season games

Opening statement: Talk a little about your team fighting through two tough back-to-back games with Ole Miss and LSU in the last week.

"Ole Miss gave us a great challenge. I thought we did a good job of containing them in the second half with the switch to our matchup zone. I felt like we managed to make the plays when we had to have them. They are a team that can generate a lot of points off their defense, but for the most part, I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball and got good shot selection overall. Going into the LSU game I thought rebounding was a key for us, and we had to get paint points and establish our inside game. I didn't realize how much we would have to rely on paint points. Candace Parker did a great job, Shannon Bobbitt knocked down some key outside shots for us with Sidney Spencer struggling. Alexis Hornbuckle came up with some big plays for us. I thought our defense was solid. It was a big win for us, and that speaks to our team's ability to answer runs. They never went ahead of us. I felt like we stepped up when we had to. Dominique Redding came in and got us a much needed eight points. A lot of people contributed."

On the next two games at Arkansas and at home versus Vanderbilt...

"With Arkansas, Lauren Irvin has brought a lot to their team. She was a transfer, but she appears to be contributing. Their top three have pretty good balance. The thing with them, they are always a team that plays well at home. We have had some tough battles there, and I don't expect this one to be anything different. They are in an `everything to win, nothing to lose' position. We have to have the leadership and maturity to go in and be ready to play against a team that will fight us hard."

After winning the SEC title on Monday versus LSU, how hard will it be to keep your team focused against Arkansas?

"It's always a concern. With some teams it is more of a concern than others. I have a lot of confidence in this team. In particular, knowing that they have been very focused on winning the league and not only that, but going undefeated. I do know that Arkansas has got the players that can put up numbers. Irvin is one, Donica Cosby, Sarah Pfeiffer and Brittany Vaughn can as well. If we don't go in inspired defensively, it could be a long evening for us. I have a lot of confidence in our team to go take care of business."

Rebounding has been better, but field goal percentage is down. Are you concerned?

"We've been in some defensive battles and I'm not overly concerned. We need to get Spencer on track and get Nikki Anosike scoring more. When you can shoot the ball as poorly as we did and win against a quality opponent in LSU, you're doing something right. Getting on the boards and getting on the offensive glass in particular; we have to continue to do that. The 20 offensive rebounds we had were significant in the outcome of the game."

Have you learned anything new about this team since the loss to Duke, one month ago?

"I learned a lot in the Duke game. I felt like in that game, we showed a tremendous amount of character and fight and togetherness after we got down. It was a situation where we could have said this one is over, and we put ourselves in a position, and had a legitimate chance of winning the game. Duke was a better team than us that night. We don't know how we would stack up against a Duke or a North Carolina later, but I do know that this team has a lot of fight, and will learn from what we got ourselves into against Duke in particular."

How tough will it be to beat Vanderbilt again? What will you have to do to beat them in Knoxville?

"That's a bigger challenge I think. They always play us tough. You look at their shooting percentage and they are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. You have to guard them and keep them off the boards. They are a good defensive team and they have balance. Fortunately, this game is at home and we are hoping and expecting a huge crowd. We would love to sell it out because this is the last time our fans will get to see the Lady Vols in Thompson-Boling Arena this year. We have to take them one at a time and be ready to play."

Thoughts about seniors Sidney Spencer, Dominique Redding and Elizabeth Curry going into senior day...

"It's always neat when you have senior day with parents and family members at the game. Spencer and Redding came in together and are great friends and roommates. As seniors this year, I'd credit the two of them for really bringing our team together and putting together a variety of outings to help them get to know each other better. They took that initiative which has had a strong influence on the chemistry and togetherness of our team. I'd like to see both of them go out playing well; certainly with a championship. They have been good players that have worn orange with a lot of pride. They have each had their moments. It was good to see Redding have her moment at LSU on Monday night as we won the regular season title. The team and staff were really proud for Redding. Spencer has had a lot of big nights and hopefully will have more to come. Elizabeth Curry was in a leadership role as a manager and did a great job in that role. I approached her about being a walk-on, having been a high school player herself. She wanted to do whatever she could to help the team and the program. She has handled her role and been super about it. She's been there to do what she said she'd do, and that is to help. It's been good to see her on the bench and see how much she has become a part of this basketball team."

Monday, February 19, 2007

(3) Tennessee 56, (7) LSU 51

BATON ROUGE, La. -- One of LSU's more impressive defensive showings of the season wasn't enough to stop Candace Parker.

Parker had 27 points and 13 rebounds to help No. 2 Tennessee hold off seventh-ranked LSU for a 56-51 victory Monday night that also gave the Lady Vols their 14th Southeastern Conference regular-season crown.

Tennessee desperately needed Parker's output on a night when they were held to 31.3 percent shooting as a team and when Sidney Spencer managed only two points -- 10 below her average -- on 1-of-12 shooting.

"Candace on the inside was huge establishing the post-up game and being aggressive to the basket," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "Obviously, I am very proud of this basketball team. They hung really tough when things didn't always go our way. ... We came up with key rebounds down the stretch."

Tennessee never trailed, but LSU tied the game at 51 on Sylvia Fowles' free throws with 1:21 to go.

Parker, who also had two blocks, two steals and two assists, put Tennessee back ahead with a free throw after she was fouled on an offensive rebound.

Shannon Bobbitt then made a pair of foul shots after Spencer's seventh offensive rebound -- and Tennessee's 20th overall -- to give the Lady Vols a 54-51 lead.

LSU had a chance to tie it, but Quianna Chaney's 3-pointer rimmed out.

"When it left my hand I knew it was going in," Chaney said. "But when I opened my eyes and saw that it rimmed out, it was hard to take."

Bobbitt finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, for Tennessee (25-2, 12-0 SEC), which has won eight straight since a 74-70 loss to No. 1 Duke.

Fowles had 18 points and 16 rebounds for LSU (23-5, 9-3), which lost a second-straight game in Baton Rouge after No. 3 Connecticut won here eight days earlier to snap the Lady Tigers' 43-game home winning streak that had spanned nearly three years.

The game was a defensive battle most of the way, with LSU also shooting a relatively low 40.4 percent. But the Lady Vols outrebounded the Lady Tigers 44-36. Tennessee's 20 offensive rebounds helped produce 13 second-chance points.

"Our philosophy was if you can't grab it, tip it," Parker said. "We tipped the ball to different teammates. We got second chance points. It was just a team effort."

LSU coach Pokey Chatman found little consolation in having played a close game.

"It doesn't pay to have one of the best defenses in the country if you can't pick up your paycheck at the end of it with the rebound. It's like working all week and not picking up your paycheck," Chatman said.

"So, the novice fan," Chatman began, clapping her hands mockingly three times in front of her face, "They think you played well ... but I know better."

While never falling behind by more than nine points, LSU trailed from the opening minute until 8:50 remained in the game. That's when Chaney's difficult floater as the shot clock wound down capped an 8-3 LSU run that tied the game at 42.

But on a possession during which Tennessee got two offensive rebounds, Bobbitt capitalized with a 3-pointer to put Tennessee back ahead 45-42. Parker added a pair of baskets, including a difficult shot off the glass as she spun away from a double team, that put the Lady Vols up 49-44 before LSU rallied once more to tie it.

Parker, who came in averaging 20 points a game, took control early, scoring 17 points in the opening 12 minutes as Tennessee surged to a 22-14 lead.

"She is a great player," the 6-foot-6 Fowles said of the 6-4 Parker. "She's like three in one. She can post someone up, take someone off the block or drive to the basket. She was very impressive tonight."

Double-teaming the versatile AP preseason All-America forward didn't always help LSU. Sometimes she scored anyway. And when she was nearly stripped as she tried to post up late in the half, she regained possession and rifled a pass into the corner, where Bobbitt was wide open for a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Vols a 28-19 lead.

Parker's putback in the final seconds of the half gave her 20 points and sent Tennessee into halftime with a 30-22 lead.

"We're the type of team that takes what the defense gives you," Parker said. "They doubled and people were open outside. ... Other people stepped up in the second half."

Tennessee moves up to No. 2

No. 1 Duke has some new company at the top of the AP women's basketball poll.

Tennessee moved into the No. 2 spot to replace North Carolina, which was upset by North Carolina State last week. The Tar Heels, who had been second all season, slipped to fourth, while Connecticut climbed two spots to third.

Ohio State dropped from fourth to fifth after a home loss to Michigan State on Sunday ended its 17-game winning streak. In the only other change among the top 10, No. 8 Stanford traded places with No. 9 George Washington.

Wisconsin-Green Bay was the lone newcomer, returning at No. 24 after a one-week absence. California dropped out.

Duke (28-0) led the poll for the sixth consecutive week and was a unanimous pick for the second straight week, receiving all 50 first-place votes from a national media panel.

The Blue Devils beat Boston College and No. 6 Maryland -- their second victory of the season over the defending national champs -- to remain the nation's only unbeaten team and clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship.

Duke has one more challenging game to finish the regular season, at home Sunday against North Carolina. The Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels 64-53 in Chapel Hill on Feb. 8.

Tennessee (25-2) has won eight straight after beating No. 7 LSU 56-51 on Monday night. The Lady Vols' losses were to North Carolina and Duke.

Connecticut (24-2) has won 10 straight since a Jan. 15 loss at North Carolina and has clinched at least a tie for the Big East regular-season championship. Once a constant contender for No. 1, the Huskies' No. 3 ranking is their highest since they were third the week of March 8, 2004.

North Carolina (26-2) started the week with a victory at Florida State, then lost to North Carolina State 72-65 in the first game on the newly dedicated "Kay Yow Court" in Reynolds Coliseum, named in honor of the Wolfpack's Hall of Fame coach.

The Tar Heels bounced back to rout Miami 93-70 on Sunday. They play at Wake Forest on Thursday before heading up the road to meet Duke.

Ohio State (24-2) routed Wisconsin before falling to Michigan State, its first loss in 31 games against Big Ten opponents.

Maryland remained sixth and LSU held at No. 7. Stanford, George Washington and Arizona State completed the top 10.

No. 11 Georgia and No. 12 Vanderbilt stayed the same, while the next three teams all moved up one spot -- Oklahoma, Baylor and Purdue. Texas A&M, upset at Iowa State last week, slipped three places to 16th and was followed by Middle Tennessee, Bowling Green, Marquette and Michigan State.

Rutgers, James Madison, Louisville, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Nebraska held the final five places.

Wisconsin-Green Bay had been ranked for two weeks, then dropped out a week ago even though it didn't lose. The Phoenix (21-3) have won 18 in a row.

California (20-7), which had been 22nd, split on a road trip, losing to Oregon 62-42 and beating Oregon State 67-61 in two overtimes. The Bears had been ranked all season, climbing as high as 15th in mid-December.

Michigan State made the biggest jump in the poll, climbing from 24th to 20th. Nebraska had the biggest drop, falling six places to 25th after losing to a pair of unranked opponents, Texas Tech and Missouri.

After the trip to LSU, Tennessee has another big game Sunday at home against Vanderbilt. LSU plays at Vanderbilt on Thursday. Also on Sunday, George Washington hosts Temple in a game that will decide the Atlantic 10 championship. Both are 12-0 in the league.

Lady Vols Seek To Clinch SEC Title

The #3-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (24-2, 11-0 SEC) will be looking for their 12th consecutive SEC victory of the season and possibly clinching the SEC crown traveling to conference nemesis and #7-ranked Louisiana State (23-4, 9-2 SEC) in Baton Rouge, La., on President's Day. ESPN2 has the telecast.


This is the Lady Vols' 33rd season under Head Coach Pat Summitt...She has compiled a staggering 937-179 overall record... Is just 63 wins away from a remarkable 1,000 career victories...Collected her 900th coaching win with a 80-68 decision over #19-ranked Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, 2006... She passed Dean Smith (879 wins) for most NCAA collegiate basketball wins of all-time with a 75-54 victory over Purdue on Mar. 22, 2005 ...Her 2005-06 squad advanced to the NCAA Elite 8...Finished with a 31-5 overall record and were the SEC Tournament Champions...

This season, UT returned six letterwinners, welcomed a senior manager turned player, two junior college transfers and a pair of rookies...The 2006-07 season marked the Lady Vol debut for former senior manager Elizabeth Curry, JC transfers Shannon Bobbitt and Alberta Auguste...True freshman are Cait McMahan and Nicci Moats.


A UT win over LSU would clinch the SEC Championship for the Lady Vols. A loss would force Tennessee to win the final two regular season games - at Arkansas and versus #12/13-ranked Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols' last win at LSU was in 2003.


In the final tune-up before facing Tennessee, #7-ranked LSU (23-4, 9-2 SEC) used a 24-0 run in the second half to pull away from Arkansas in an 86-65 win on Feb. 15 in Fayetteville. With the score tied 49-49 with 10:30 left in the contest, LSU shut down UA (18-9, 3-8 SEC) for the next five minutes and went on a 24-0 run to take a 73-49 lead, the largest of the game. Sylvia Fowles sparked LSU with with 23 points and 20 rebounds -- 15 of her points came in the second half, including six during the run. Quianna Chaney added 21 points in the victory, including 10 in the run the broke the game open. Erica White tossed in 15 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists. A topsy-turvy opening, LSU led 32-28 at the half while Arkansas led 17-12 with 11:24 left in the first half. The Lady Tigers took the lead on a three-pointer by Chaney with 3:35 left in the half and closed out the first 20 minutes on a 7-3 run. The Lady Tigers then opened the second half on an 8-2 run to take a 40-30 lead, but Arkansas chipped away to tie the score at 44-44 with 11:50 left in the game.


This week, the Lady Vols travel to #7 LSU for an ESPN2 match-up on Feb. 19...head to Arkansas on Feb. 22...and finishes the regular season at home versus #12/13 Vanderbilt on Feb. 25.


A record 21 Lady Vol regular season games are slated for national/regional television this season. Five non-televised games will be available as streaming video with voice-over from Mickey Dearstone on UT is 17-2 on TV this season.


UT is 9-2 in games played on Feb. 19. The Lady Vols are 4-0 at home, 3-1 on the road and 2-1 on neutral courts. The last time out on Feb. 19, the Lady Vols registered an 82-65 victory at Alabama in 2006.


Last year at this time, the Lady Vols were 24-3 and had just defeated Alabama, 82-65.


It's hard to believe that there are just three games to go in the regular season. UT's stretch run to the SEC Tournament includes a dangerous slate. The Lady Vols have just one game at home -- #12/13 Vanderbilt (Feb. 25). Tennessee travels to #7 LSU (Feb. 19) and Arkansas (Feb. 22). Tennessee has an 11-0 record in SEC play and is being chased by LSU (9-2), Georgia (9-3) and Vanderbilt (8-3). The 2007 SEC Tournament will be held Mar. 1-4 in Duluth, Ga.


In all games, this is how Tennessee has shot from the field: 50%FG: Chattanooga (.579), MTSU (.565), Arizona St. (.548), Kentucky (.532), UCLA (.531), ODU/UT-Martin (.509), Stanford (.500); 40%FG: Louisiana Tech (.483), GWU (.482), Alabama1 (.464), Georgia2 (.459), Vandy1 (.458), Alabama2 (.453), Ole Miss (.448), Florida (.442), WVU (.431), Texas (.429), Auburn (.403); 30%FG: Georgia1 (.396), Miss. St. (.395), Notre Dame (.381), USC (.379), UConn (.371), North Carolina (.362), Duke (.361)


In all games, this is how the opposition has shot from the field: 50%FG: none, 40%FG: Duke (.491), GWU (.472), Arizona St. (.469), Stanford (.456), MTSU (.453), UCLA (.451), North Carolina (.444), Vandy1 (.438), Kentucky (.434), UConn (.433), Chattanooga (.431), Miss. State (.409), Notre Dame (.407), Ole Miss (.406), 30%FG: ODU & Auburn (.396), Georgia2 (.380), Alabama2 (.378), Alabama1 (.369), WVU (.352), USC (.349), Florida (.345), Georgia1 (.319), Texas (.308); 20%FG: Louisiana Tech (.295), UT-Martin (.204)


Wins: +56 (1), +36 (2), +30 (1), +29 (2), +24 (2), +23 (2), +22 (2), +21 (2), +17 (1), + 16 (2), +15 (1), +12 (1), +11 (1), + 10 (2), +9 (1), +6 (1). Losses: -13 (1), -4 (1)


Lady Vol junior college transfer forward, Alberta "Bird" Auguste returns to her home state for the game versus LSU. Auguste, a native of Marrero, La. (John Ehret H.S.), is Tennessee's first player ever from the state of Louisiana. Marrero is located in southeastern Louisiana near New Orleans and is 73 miles from Baton Rouge (as the crow flies).


Tennessee and Louisiana State square-off in Baton Rouge in a President's Day meeting on ESPN2. In the mid-1800's, president's from the two states served a majority of time in the White House. The state of Tennessee supplied three of the nation's presidents (No. 7 Andrew Jackson, 1829-37; No. 11 James K. Polk, 1845-49 and No. 17 Andrew Johnson, 1865-69) while one served from the state of Louisiana (No. 12 Zachary Taylor, 1849-50). Since the mid-1800's, neither the state of Tennessee nor the state of Louisiana has seen a president elected from their home state. Tennessee's Al Gore came close in the 2000 presidential race.


LSU is 23-4 overall and 9-2 in the SEC this season. Defeating Tennessee in Baton Rouge on Feb. 19 would keep the Lady Tigers chances alive for a piece of the SEC crown. LSU has lost four games this season with a countdown margin: 4-3-2-1. In order of defeat, Baylor won by 4 (64-60), Ole Miss won by 3 (77-74), Georgia won by 2 (53-51) and Connecticut by a point (72-71).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lady Vols given time off to recover after bruising game

KNOXVILLE, TN -- Lady Vols head basketball coach Pat Summitt gave her team the day off Friday to help the players recuperate from injuries.

Summitt says the Lady Vols look like walking wounded.

Two key players are particularly banged up right now after suffering injuries in Thursday night's win over Ole Miss.

Back-up guard Cait McMahan played 11 minutes but left the game with a left elbow injury.

The good news for the Lady Vols is there's no fracture, but McMahan's playing status for the LSU game isn't certain.

She will have an MRI either Friday night or Saturday.

Back-up guard Alex Fuller played 18 minutes against Ole Miss and suffered a bump below her right eye. That's the same eye she injured in the Vanderbilt game.

Stitches weren't necessary and the Lady Vols say she will practice and play as much as her injury allows.

There is no doubt the Lady Vols need time to recover. They play at LSU Monday night. A win clinches the SEC regular season title for Summitt's team.

Summitt tries to find answer for Tennessee rebounding woes

Defense and rebounding always have been the motto of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. This season the Lady Vols are doing fine on defense, but rebounding has not been up to their standards.

This year's team could end up having the worst rebounding average in school history, taking over the spot the 2005-06 team had at 39.4 rebounds per game. Last year's average was the worst in 28 years.

The Lady Vols were ranked 11th out of 12 Southeastern Conference teams at 37.1 rebounds a game heading into Thursday's game against Mississippi, the top rebounding team in the league.

Summitt said she was going to emphasize rebounding even more during games.

"We'll have to hold people more accountable. One thing that has certainly come to my mind that we're going to do is to keep specific stats and talk at halftime about who is rebounding and who is not,'' she said.

Individually, Candace Parker ranks fourth in the SEC in rebounding at about nine a game, and Summitt believes the other players might be waiting for Parker to rebound. Tennessee's next-best rebounder is Nicky Anosike at 5.5 a game.

"I do agree with the philosophy that it's not so much what you teach but what you emphasize,'' Summitt said. "I don't think that's worked as well with this group, we've always emphasized rebounding.''

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Parker, Lady Vols overpower Mississippi

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi has one of the best guards in the Southeastern Conference and is having one of its most successful seasons in a decade. The Rebels still came up short at No. 3 Tennessee.

Candace Parker had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the third-ranked Lady Vols had a decisive run in the first half en route to an 81-69 win over the Rebels on Thursday night.

Tennessee (24-2, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) took the lead before halftime with an 11-0 run while Ole Miss star Armintie Price was on the bench with two fouls.

Price, who is second in scoring in the SEC behind Parker, scored nine of her 13 points in the second half for the Rebels (19-8, 8-4). She was averaging 18.7 points a game.

Ole Miss beat then-No. 10 Vanderbilt and then-No. 5 LSU last month and is one win away from reaching 20 victories for the first time since 1994-95.

"We knew going in that this was not going to be an easy 40 minutes of basketball," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I thought Ole Miss did a great job of staying aggressive. Even with Price in foul trouble, they were able to maintain their intensity up until halftime."

The Lady Vols have beaten Ole Miss 14 straight times.

"I have to give Tennessee and this environment a lot of credit," Ole Miss coach Carol Ross said. "It certainly seemed to have affected us. We were not the team that beat LSU or Vanderbilt.

"Tennessee is talented and good enough to make us pay when we miss our rotation or are a step slow. That was pretty much it."

Shannon Bobbitt added 15 points and Alexis Hornbuckle had 12 for Tennessee.

Danetra Forrest scored 11 points for Ole Miss, while Ashley Awkward, Carla Bartee and Bianca Thomas added 10 apiece, and Jada Mincy had 10 rebounds.

After a fairly even first half, Tennessee uncharacteristically went from a man-to-man defense to zone to slow down Ole Miss.

"They were penetrating so much and so easily at times that coach put us in zone. I think we handled it really well," Hornbuckle said. "They got a lot more open jump shots, but we shut down their penetration."

The Rebels got as close as 42-36 in the second half on a layup by Forrest. Price picked up her third foul on the next play and stayed on the court, but soon the game was out of reach.

The Lady Vols capped the ensuing 7-0 run with Sidney Spencer's jumper that made it 49-36 with 15:34 left. Tennessee led by 19 with 5:56 to go.

In the first half, the Rebels were ahead 20-17 on Bartee's jumper with 7:36 left in the first half.

Bobbitt then hit a 3 to start an 11-0 run for the Lady Vols. They never trailed again.

Price, a senior, only needs seven points to become the fifth women in NCAA history with at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals in a career.

She would follow Southern Cal's Cheryl Miller, Baylor's Sophia Young, and Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw and Tamika Catchings.

"You can't go on the road against a team as good as Tennessee and have your best player sitting on the bench, and she wasn't very good when she came back out," Ross said.

With Price on the bench with two fouls, Ole Miss kept the game close early and went ahead 14-13 on Thomas' putback with 12:02 left. But Tennessee got the lead back on the next play on Parker's scoop shot in the lane.

"In the second half, I knew I had come out and just take over. This time, it just didn't go our way," Price said.

The Rebels had 23 turnovers and Tennessee had 20 — 14 were on steals.

Price, who leads in the NCAA with 3.73 steals a game, had four.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt Talks Ahead Of The Ole' Miss & LSU Match-Ups

Opening Statement:

“I thought our Kentucky game was one of our better team efforts in terms of playing together both defensively and offensively. We did a little bit better job in our screening action and improved on the offensive end. Coming away from the game, it really made me fully aware that we have to be a better rebounding team. We can’t just expect a couple of people to get on the boards and do the dirty work there. We really need to rebound as a team on the defensive end and have the discipline to get four people on the offensive glass on a consistent basis.”

On Mississippi:

“Watching this Mississippi team, Armintie Price is a great player and is the player that is hard to defend, because she does so many things. They are a very athletic team and cover a lot of ground in their quarter-court defense. They do a good job of random trapping. The concern will be how we handle their defensive pressure. It will be important to take care of the basketball; that needs to be a top priority for us.”


“I haven’t really looked at LSU. I saw part of their Connecticut game, but they are one team I haven’t seen as much. I try not to look ahead, but keep the focus on Ole Miss now. Playing at LSU will be a big challenge for us. There have been some tough games between Tennessee and LSU, whether it is home or away. With Sylvia Fowles in the middle, she’s got the defensive presence and rebounding capabilities to really impact the game. That’s what I think, that rebounding is foremost on my mind.”

Was your goal for the season to run the table in the SEC:

“Well we haven’t done it yet, but obviously the way that we have played and, in particular on the road, and answering second half runs, whether it was Auburn or Georgia or Vanderbilt, I think we’ve shown a lot of character and composure in those games. To me that is very encouraging for our basketball team. In this league everyone will challenge and make a run and if you don’t answer, then you’re not in the position we’re in right now. I’m pleased with what this team has been able to do in that regard. It wasn’t a goal to go undefeated; the goal was to win the SEC regular season. Obviously LSU has been the one that has done that of late, and we established that as our goal. But we talked about it after our wins at Georgia and Vanderbilt, it was more my idea. I said to them that I really want to challenge them as a team to run the table in the league. I said if you want the number one seed, then that is the way to do it. From the national perspective that is important to us. We still have four games; we have to play them one at a time. It won’t be easy to win out, we know that. Certainly playing at LSU is a big challenge. It will be a new experience for our three newcomers as well.”

On this team being up and down with rebounding all season:

“Well I do think that a lot has to do with us not rebounding on the defensive end collectively. We rely a lot on Candace Parker rebounding for us. She’s obviously been a real force on the defensive boards where Nicky Anosike has been inconsistent. Alex Fuller has done a decent job, but our front line can share responsibility and that is exactly what I want them to do. Our guards as well, all the long rebounds, guards should expect to get them. That is something that we haven’t had that type of commitment with the exception of Alexis Hornbuckle. I know with Shannon Bobbitt and Cait McMahan, I’m sure they’ve never had to be challenged in that area, but even point guards need to be mindful of rebounding on the defensive end.”

Are there things you can do on placing emphasis to rebounding in practice:

“There are a lot of drills you can do. I do agree with the philosophy that it’s not so much what you teach but what you emphasize. I don’t think that’s worked as well with this group, we’ve always emphasized rebounding. We’ll have to hold people more accountable. One thing that has certainly come to my mind that we’re going to do is to keep specific stats and talk at halftime about who is rebounding and who is not. We’ll look at how many opportunities we’ve had, how many missed opportunities and holding them accountable throughout the game. We talk about it a lot at time outs, and focusing on the next four minutes. We talk about separating ourselves for the next four minutes and dominating the glass, but I think that we need to hold them accountable from a statistical standpoint.”

On Cait and Shannon as rebounders, how much does their size affect them:

“I think it can factor in. They are not going to be a rebounding guard like Hornbuckle, but my take on that, from watching film. I don’t think they’ve felt the responsibility of ‘if I get two boards a game’ that they can help us from a defensive point to quickly get in our offense. That is where I have to stay on them and encourage them to rebound because there are more people shooting threes in the women’s game. There are longer rebounds coming out, and I think we have to be aware of taking advantage in that regard.”

On Candace Parker’s performance against Kentucky:

“I thought Candace was very focused on being aggressive, on the offensive end, to the basket, did a nice job of attacking off the dribble, but also staying in her shot and not fading. Overall she had a better offensive package, and her shot selection was really good. Certainly she got on the boards for us consistently. Defensively she’s getting better, I still think that there is an upside there to what she can bring, particularly with as many people that are working the high-low action. Every year there are offensive tendencies and right now it’s high low game, setting ball screens at the middle of the floor and at the elbows. Candace, Nicky and Alex need to focus on getting better and guarding that particular action. We are getting better and Candace in particular has gotten better and is much more committed to her defense.”

On Alexis Hornbuckle’s defense and streak of steals:

“Alexis has always invested a lot of energy into her defense. She’s been the player in particular this year that has been the most consistent in terms of her commitment to guard the ball, and generate a lot of energy. I think that filters throughout our team without question. She is good on the ball but very dangerous off the ball and getting in passing lanes. When we’re pressing, she brings the most energy and that inspires her teammates. It has given us a great opportunity for early offense and being able to create an advantage when we get steals in the open court to be able to get to the basket and have a distinct advantage.”

On LSU’s Sylvia Fowles:

“I think she’s taken on a bigger load at both ends of the floor, from what I’ve seen. She’s committed defensively and playing hard and working on the glass within their motion offense. One thing that strikes me is that she does a great job of, in her screening action, getting the ball right at the basket in the middle of the floor. They do a great job as a team of putting her in a position to catch and score. I think their spacing in terms of high-low action and getting her in position to be able to get to the basket, it’s hard to defend her when she gets in position. That’s where, to me, on the offensive end they really have improved. She gets a lot more touches and with Seimone Augustus gone, you expect that. Defensively she’s a lot more aggressive. I’m sure she feels like she needs to step up and do more for her team on both ends.”

When Seimone Augustus graduated, what were you expecting from LSU this year:

“I think they have done a great job overall. I’m impressed with the work load that Sylvia Fowles has taken on for that team. That’s what you have to have, when you lose a great player, you have to have someone willing to step up. She stepped up and has been a go-to player. She’s done a great job. In watching them play, they are aggressive from all positions. It’s not like they are standing around watching Sylvia work. That’s always a concern as a coach. I think we’re experiencing some of that with Candace Parker in regard to our rebounding. In watching LSU play, they are working together as a team and trying to make things happen as a team.”

On your loss of big players from last season, such as Shanna Zolman:

“I’m really pleased with this team, there was a lot of unknown, having three players transfer out of our program made me stop and think that we’re not going to have the depth, losing two guards and a strong post presence. Immediately we focused on what we did have. I think the unknown was our two junior college players coming in. Both Alberta Auguste and Shannon Bobbitt have been a pleasant surprise and addition. A surprise because they fit in as quickly as they did and a great addition because they both are capable of making a difference for us. From that standpoint, things came together and we had the speed and quickness to be a better defensive team than we were a year ago. The maturity of Candace Parker, Sidney Spencer and Alexis Hornbuckle, across the board I think that when you’re a year older and you’ve had that experience, it usually will come through. With this group, it’s been very clear that they’re all very committed. They didn’t like what happened last year and how we ended the season. They are the ones that worked in the off season.”

On Lady Vol softball earning the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking:

“I think Karen and Ralph Weekly have done a tremendous job of putting together the caliber athletes. The recruiting they have done nationally has been tremendous. They put Tennessee softball on the map. With Monica Abbott, I’ll never forget the day I met her on her recruiting visit. Both coaches said if she comes to Tennessee, she’ll take us to the Women’s College World Series and that happened. It’s really great to see how they’ve been able to assemble so many talented players and go back-to-back to the WCWS and put Tennessee in the forefront. The exposure has been incredible. Even when I’m out recruiting, it’s amazing how many people have talked about our softball team. They are a great source of pride for all of us.”

Sunday, February 11, 2007

(3) Tennessee 84, Kentucky 62

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee welcomed back a former assistant coach and members of its first national championship team with a win typical of many in the Lady Vols' history.

Candace Parker scored 22 of her 31 points in the first half and third-ranked Tennessee cruised to an 84-62 win over Kentucky on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (23-2, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) honored members of its 1987 team that won the school's first national championship and other former players at halftime.

Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss was an assistant to coach Pat Summitt for 18 years, including the 1987 season, but her reunion was not as fun.

"This was a great weekend," Summitt said. "Every player on our '87 championship team managed to find a way back for this. That was special. Everyone here was proud for the '87 group. They have the bragging rights, and we heard a lot about it."

The Wildcats (16-10, 5-6) provided even more motivation for the Lady Vols after beating then-No. 1 Tennessee 66-63 last year in Lexington to end a 24-game losing streak in the series. The Lady Vols didn't give Kentucky a chance to repeat, grabbing a lead from the beginning with a tough full-court press.

"I thought our basketball team started strong. I thought Candace Parker really established her inside game, and just her aggressive play set the tone on the offensive end," Summitt said.

Sidney Spencer and Shannon Bobbitt each scored 12 points, and Alex Fuller had 11 for Tennessee.

Sarah Elliott led Kentucky with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jennifer Humphrey added 15 after getting into foul trouble in the first half.

"It's a little rough sitting on that other side," DeMoss said. "I thought their defense looked really good tonight. Their full-court defense is something we had trouble with in the first half. We turned the ball over too much, and they converted those turnovers into easy baskets."

DeMoss was introduced with the other players on the 1987 team before the game.

"It's just amazing it was 20 years ago," DeMoss said. "It was really good seeing all the former players back, and it was a really special title because it was the first."

The current Tennessee players cheered during the introductions.

"Tradition is very important to this program. They have left a legacy that we've grown up watching and that we wanted to follow," Spencer said. "Getting to see that and be in the presence of champions was really awesome."

The Lady Vols built a lead early and went ahead 25-13 when a pass bounced off a Kentucky player near midcourt and Parker got it and scored with 9:08 left before halftime.

Tennessee increased its lead to 25 with a 12-0 run late in the first half. Parker scored six points during the spurt, and Cait McMahan's driving layup with 49.6 seconds remaining put the Lady Vols up 46-21.

Tennessee expanded its lead to 30 early in the second half on Bobbitt's 3 with 17:05 left.

Parker was 12-of-16 from the floor and 7-of-8 at the foul line. She also had nine rebounds. Her night appeared over early in the second half when she went to the bench and put on her warmups.

But Kentucky rallied to pull within 22 with 9:11 remaining and Summitt put Parker back in the game. Parker fouled Humphrey, who converted a three-point play that trimmed it to 68-49.

Parker tipped in a miss on Tennessee's next possession to push the lead back over 20 and went back to the bench for good a few minutes later.

"It's winding down. We're getting closer to the postseason. We just have to come into the game with the mindset of being strong on the defensive and offensive ends," Parker said.

Tennessee pressed in the first half and Kentucky was harassed into 16 turnovers. The Wildcats finished with 25.

Despite the lopsided score, Kentucky outrebounded Tennessee 40-24.

Kentucky's win over the Lady Vols last year helped the Wildcats have one of their best seasons. They finished with 22 wins, the most in 16 seasons, and went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years as a No. 5 seed.

"All we did at the very beginning of the game was say 'This isn't last year,' and left it at that, and we knew we needed to bring energy," said Tennessee's Alexis Hornbuckle, who had four steals and seven assists.

Tennessee has won at least 10 SEC games for the 10th straight season since going 8-4 in the league in 1996-97. The Lady Vols are the only undefeated team in SEC play.

Lady Vols to honor 1986-87 title team

Members of Tennessee's first national championship team will be the featured guests among more than 50 former Lady Vols returning for an alumni weekend.

The 20-year anniversary of the 1986-87 championship will be celebrated in conjunction with today's women's basketball game against Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Including family members, UT coach Pat Summitt expects the total alumni group to number more than 150.

"It will be a great time to reflect, get together and share stories,'' Summitt said. "Every time we get together, the stories seem to change from year to year. But it's fun. I always enjoy it."

Tennessee first championship, which occurred in its fourth national championship game (NCAA and AIAW), was the breakthrough that preceded five more championships.

"It was almost like the pressure was off and I think from that point on we saw ourselves as the team that could in fact compete for championships,'' Summitt said.

Not To Worry: Summitt is not sweating Tennessee's recent tendency to commit fouls.

In the past two games, the Lady Vols have been whistled for 40 total infractions, resulting in 43 combined free throw attempts by Georgia and Auburn.

"We want to be an aggressive team,'' Summitt said. "Sometimes fouls come with that."

If anything, she wants her team to be more aggressive. Summitt has been pushing that theme with first-year point guards Shannon Bobbitt and Cait McMahan, who are the first line of defense.

There are exceptions, however. Alberta Auguste has been whistled for six fouls in 34 playing minutes the past two games. Summitt said the junior guard would benefit from more discipline. Summitt then added: "I'll live with her fouls better than I will her turnovers."

Not to Worry II: Summitt also isn't fretting over the Lady Vols' 7-for-32 shooting on 3 pointers the past two games.

For senior Sidney Spencer, Tennessee's top 3-point shooter, it might help not having any more games in her home state of Alabama.

With her grandfather, Earl, in attendance, Spencer shot 1-for-4 on treys against Auburn on Thursday night. On Jan. 28 at Alabama, with approximately 50 family members and friends on hand, Spencer missed all six of her attempts from behind the arc.

Stay Tuned: Given UT's playing style and relative lack of depth, the practice schedule can change on a moment's notice.

"I tell the kids: 'I'll tell you after the game,' '' Summitt said.

After the Auburn game, Friday's practice was scaled back to a weight workout.

"Fresh legs for us mean a lot because of how we play,'' Summitt said.

New Digs: While Tennessee's basketball practice facility is under construction, Kentucky is moving into its $30 million facility.

Wildcats coach Mickie DeMoss said the team is using the new courts and locker room. The coaches are scheduled to move into their new offices this week.

"Love it. Love it,'' DeMoss said. "When you walk in there, there's such a sense of pride. It's first class. I think it's going to help in recruiting."

Cats wary of vengeful Vols

Summitt says her players remember the price we paid

Kentucky's players screamed and piled on top of one another, celebrating their upset win over top-ranked Tennessee.

Their coach didn't have time to feel joy before a sinking feeling took over.

"I immediately started thinking when the buzzer went off at Rupp Arena that we're going to have to go back down to Knoxville next year," UK Coach Mickie DeMoss said.

That fact wasn't lost on the Lady Vols coach, either.

"She reminded me quite frequently over the summer," DeMoss said of UT Coach Pat Summitt, her friend and boss for 18 years at Tennessee.

DeMoss is confident the Tennessee players haven't forgotten the loss to UK, either.

"They will remember it quite vividly, I'm sure," DeMoss said. "They don't lose many games. They remember the losses."

They especially remember the Kentucky loss, their first to an unranked opponent in four years. The UK loss coupled with a loss to Florida probably cost the Lady Vols a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is something they didn't take lightly, Summitt said.

"Our players, they understood the price we paid for not being a more efficient team, for not playing hard all the time," Summitt said. "This group, they'd never not been to a Final Four, then when they didn't have a chance to go, it was a significant wake-up call, a real jolt for the team."

Summitt called this third-ranked Tennessee team "a different team, a better team," and it's evident.

Behind star Candace Parker, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, the Vols (22-2, 9-0 Southeastern Conference) have won five in a row and remain unbeaten in the SEC.

Their only losses this season have been to No. 2 North Carolina and top-ranked Duke.

But Kentucky's players, coming off a much-needed road win at Mississippi on Thursday, said they aren't scared of going into Thompson-Boling Arena tonight for a nationally televised rematch with the Lady Vols.

"It does a lot for our confidence to know that they have pretty much the same team back from last year and we do, too, and that we were able to play with them," said Samantha Mahoney, who leads UK in scoring in conference play.

While Mahoney and her teammates vividly remember the defining win over UT last year, they also recall their last trip to Knoxville, when they scored the first two points of the game and Tennessee went on to score the next 22.

They'd like to stop something similar from happening tonight even though they know the Vols are extra motivated.

"I know they're going to come out and try to jump out on us early because we beat them last year," Mahoney said. "We just have to focus on us."

DeMoss's concerns about going back down to Knoxville aren't unfounded. When asked whether Summitt is a vengeful person, the UK coach smiled and nodded.

"She doesn't like to lose and is one of the most competitive people I've met," DeMoss said.

But Summitt said she was proud, in an odd way, of what UK was able to accomplish last season, even though it was at her team's expense.

"As strange as it may seem, I was really as pleased for Mickie as disappointed as I was for our team," Summitt said. "It was a special moment in time. ... If you have to lose to anyone, why not lose to someone you have tremendous respect for that had a major impact on the Tennessee program?"

There will be no UK element of surprise this season, though. Tennessee's players and staff have had this game marked on their calendars for a long time.

"This team remembers last year's loss to Kentucky and how costly it was," Summitt said. "Come Sunday, I hope this basketball team will come ready and take care of business."

The business of payback.


Tonight's game will be a part of alumni weekend with more than 50 former players and 100 family members in town to honor the 20th anniversary of Tennessee's first NCAA championship team, for which DeMoss was an assistant coach.

• UK has never won a game at Thompson-Boling, and its last win at Knoxville was in 1985.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

(3) Tennessee 72, Auburn 62

AUBURN, Ala. -- Candace Parker had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead third-ranked Tennessee to a 72-62 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.

Alexis Hornbuckle added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Nicky Anosike had 10 points for Tennessee (22-2, 9-0 Southeastern Conference), which raced out to an early 10-2 advantage and led 32-24 at halftime.

DeWanna Bonner led Auburn (17-9, 4-5) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Reserve KeKe Carrier added 11 points and nine rebounds.

The 6-foot-4 Parker controlled the paint on both ends of the court. She made 8 of 15 shots from the floor, 9 of 10 from the free throw line and scored 17 of her points in the second half.

Led by Parker, the Lady Vols outscored the Tigers 15-5 over the first 5-plus minutes of the second half to take a 47-29 lead.

Auburn turned up the tempo and closed to within seven points with 5 minutes remaining, but forward Sidney Spencer had seven points in the next 2 minutes to extend the lead to 14 for the Lady Vols.

Lady Vols Face Auburn On Thursday Night

The #3-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (21-2, 8-0 SEC) travels to meet the Auburn Tigers (17-7, 4-4) in a key Southeastern Conference match-up on Thursday night.

The game came be seen on CSS.

Only six games remain for UT in the SEC regular season.


This is the Lady Vols' 33rd season under Head Coach Pat Summitt...She has compiled a staggering 934-179 overall record... Is just 66 wins away from a remarkable 1,000 career victories...Collected her 900th coaching win with a 80-68 decision over #19-ranked Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, 2006... She passed Dean Smith (879 wins) for most NCAA collegiate basketball wins of all-time with a 75-54 victory over Purdue on Mar. 22, 2005 ...Her 2005-06 squad advanced to the NCAA Elite 8...Finished with a 31-5 overall record and were the SEC Tournament Champions...

This season, UT returned six letterwinners, welcomed a senior manager turned player, two junior college transfers and a pair of rookies...The 2006-07 season marked the Lady Vol debut for former senior manager #10 Elizabeth Curry, JC transfers #00 Shannon Bobbitt and #33 Alberta Auguste...True freshman, #2 Cait McMahan, a 5-4 guard from Maryville, Tenn., and #34 Nicci Moats, a 6-2 forward from Daleville, Va.


After an offensive flurry from Mississippi State to open the second half, Auburn nursed a single-digit lead for more than 18 minutes to pull out a 63-57 win on Feb. 4 in Starkville, Miss. The win improved Auburn to 17-7 overall and 4-4 in the SEC. AU's DeWanna Bonner carried the Tigers on both ends of the floor, scoring 19 points and grabbing a career-high 15 boards for her 10th double-double of the season. Tamela McCorvey added 12 points, while Jordan Greenleaf netted 10 and blocked a career-high five shots.


The Tennessee Lady Vols will welcome back the basketball alums Feb. 10-11 with a weekend of activities. Over 50 former players and more than 100 family members will be in attendance. On Sun., Feb. 11, Tennessee will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first NCAA Championship team - the 1987 squad. All alums will be honored at halftime of the UT-Kentucky game. Tip-off is slated for 5:25 p.m. on ESPN2.


This week, the Lady Vols entertained #9/14-ranked Georgia in an ESPN2 "Rivalry Week" match-up on Feb. 5 (a 73-57 UT win). UT travels to Auburn on Feb. 8 and returns home to face Kentucky on Feb. 11 on ESPN2.


A record 21 Lady Vol regular season games are slated for national/regional television this season. Five non-televised games will be available as streaming video with voice-over from Mickey Dearstone on UT is 14-2 on TV this season.


UT is 12-3 in games played on Feb. 8. The Lady Vols are 5-2 at home, 7-1 on the road and 0-0 on neutral courts. The last time out on Feb. 8, the Lady Vols registered a 72-58 victory over South Carolina in Knoxville in 2004.


Last year at this time, the Lady Vols were 21-2 and had just defeated Arkansas, 77-37.


Tennessee will play 15 teams in 17 games and five of the nation's top 10 teams who have been ranked at some point this season in the AP and USA TODAY ESPN polls: North Carolina, Duke, UConn, Georgia, LSU, Stanford, Arizona St., Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, UCLA, George Washington, Texas Mississippi and Middle Tennessee. All have been ranked or are currently ranked.


In all games, this is how Tennessee has shot from the field: 50%FG: Chattanooga (.579), MTSU (.565), Arizona St. (.548), UCLA (.531), ODU/UT-Martin (.509), Stanford (.500); 40%FG: Louisiana Tech (.483), GWU (.482), Alabama1 (.464), Georgia2 (.459), Vandy1 (.458), Alabama2 (.453), Florida (.442), West Virginia (.431), Texas (.429); 30%FG: Georgia1 (.396), Miss. St. (.395), Notre Dame (.381), USC (.379), UConn (.371), North Carolina (.362), Duke (.361)


In all games, this is how the opposition has shot from the field: 50%FG: none, 40%FG: Duke (.491), GWU (.472), Arizona St. (.469), Stanford (.456), MTSU (.453), UCLA (.451), North Carolina (.444), Vandy1 (.438), UConn (.433), Chattanooga (.431), Miss. State (.409), Notre Dame (.407), 30%FG: ODU (.396), Georgia2 (.380), Alabama2 (.378), Alabama1 (.369), West Virginia (.352), USC (.349), Florida (.345), Georgia1 (.319), Texas (.308); 20%FG: Louisiana Tech (.295), UT-Martin (.204)


Wins: +56 (1), +36 (2), +30 (1), +29 (2), +24 (2), +23 (2), +22 (1), +21 (2), +17 (1), + 16 (2), +15 (1), +11 (1), + 10 (1), +9 (1), +6 (1). Losses: -13 (1), -4 (1)

Don't forget
Paint the Town Orange
Sunday vs. Kentucky!


The Kentucky Wildcats (15-9, 4-5 SEC) saw junior guard Samantha Mahoney tally a team-high 21 points to lead four UK players in double figure scoring as the Wildcats held off a late Florida charge for an 84-74 win in Memorial Coliseum in Lexington on Feb. 4. Kentucky, which broke a three-game losing streak with the win, led by 18 points (71-53) with 4:38 left in the game when the Gators began their comeback. Florida went on a 19-6 run over the next 3:27 to pull within five, 77-72 with 1:26 remaining in the game. The Wildcats, however, made 7-of-8 clutch free throws in the final minute. Kentucky, which shot a season-best 51.9 percent (28-of-54) from the field, also won the rebound battle by 13 (44-31), its second-largest rebounding margin in SEC play this season.


The Lady Vols have picked up two wins over Alabama and Georgia this season. Tennessee has already picked up one win over Vanderbilt and will face the Commodores again on Feb. 25.


The Auburn Tigers are currently wedged in the middle of the pack of the SEC standings with a 4-4 record. AU entered the SEC portion of the schedule sporting a 13-3 slate in non-conference play. During the first two weeks versus conference opposition, Auburn post a loss then a win. The pattern was broken in week three losing back-to-back games to Kentucky and LSU. Since that time, the Tigers have won two straight defeating Alabama and Mississippi St.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Strong defense brings in win

The Lady Vols’ defense set the tone early Monday in their win over the Georgia Lady Bulldogs 73-57.

The Lady Vols (21-2, 8-0) started out slow, shooting just 37 percent in the first half. However, the poor shooting did not hinder the team on defense. Tennessee created 19 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.

“I am very pleased with the defensive intensity,” coach Pat Summitt said. “Alexis Hornbuckle set the tone for how we were going to play on the defensive end.”

Hornbuckle’s defensive play extended to the offensive end of the floor near the end of the half. Hornbuckle scored 12 of Tennessee’s 27 points and had four steals in the first half. She finished with 14 points, seven assists, nine rebounds and four steals.

“We knew they were going to come in here for vengeance after we beat them on their home court,” Hornbuckle said. “We didn’t rely on our offense tonight, and I think that’s what got us off to our good start, which was important.”

After the half, the Lady Vols picked up the intensity. Sophomore Candace Parker went to the inside working on the boards. Parker scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Georgia (19-5, 6-3) then tried to double-team the All-American until she found Sidney Spencer for two 3-point baskets. The inside-out play of both Parker and Spencer led to a 14-2 run to open the half.

“No one can really defend Parker on the inside unless they do double-team her,” Summitt said. “She’s the kind of player who can make people pay by kicking out of the double-teams. I think that’s the way we have to play if we want to be one of the best teams in the country. We just have to have the inside-outside mentality.”

Georgia was able to keep up with the Lady Vols early. Junior Tasha Humphrey led the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points and 10 rebounds, but Georgia could not match the Lady Vols’ intensity in the second half.

“In the second half, Tennessee got momentum by taking the ball inside,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “We were poor in our efforts to keep it out of there. Tennessee puts you in a position to make choices, and if you choose incorrectly, they make you pay for that because it normally results in a turnover.”

For UT, the win is the sixth in a row against the Georgia Lady Bulldogs and gives the Lady Vols a two game lead in the SEC. The Lady Vols’ next task will be to take on Auburn down on the plains Thursday at 7 p.m.

Monday, February 05, 2007

(3) Tennessee 73, (14) Georgia 57

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee got the ball to Candace Parker inside -- just the way coach Pat Summitt prefers.

Parker had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and the third-ranked Lady Vols pulled away in the second half for a 73-57 win over No. 9 Georgia on Monday night.

Parker turned it on in the second half after scoring only four points in the first. She found a way to score around tough defenders in the paint, and her teammates benefited with open outside shots.

"No one can really defend Parker on the inside unless they do double-team her. She's the kind of player who can make people pay by kicking out of the double-teams," Summitt said. "I think that's the way we have to play if we want to be one of the best teams in the country. We just have to have the inside-outside mentality."

Alexis Hornbuckle added 14 points and Alex Fuller had 11 for the Lady Vols (21-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference), who opened the second half with a 16-2 run.

Tennessee had a six-point lead at halftime and stretched it to 20 at the beginning of the second half. Sidney Spencer scored all nine of her points during the spurt, and Parker had five.

Nicky Anosike's inside basket with 14:47 to go made it 43-23. Georgia finally scored on Angel Robinson's basket 20 seconds later.

The Lady Bulldogs (19-5, 6-3) could not rally and had their five-game winning streak snapped. Their previous loss was to Tennessee at home, 52-41 on Jan. 14.

Georgia made that game much more physical and often brought two or three defenders to guard Parker in the paint. She was held to 10 points in Athens.

"I think we came out and attacked -- just going to the basket and running on them and getting to the free throw line," Parker said. "I learned from the first half."

Tasha Humphrey led Georgia with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Ashley Houts added 11 points.

Georgia got as close as 44-29 in the second half on Cori Chambers' putback. But Parker scored eight straight Tennessee points around a pair of free throws by Humphrey, and the Lady Vols were back up 52-31 with 9:47 left.

"Early, we executed well in spite of turnovers. But the turnovers were too many for us to be in any better shape than we were score-wise," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "In the second half, Tennessee got momentum by taking the ball inside. We were poor in our efforts to keep it out of there."

The Lady Bulldogs kept up with the fast pace but could not make enough shots. They shot 38 percent from the field (19-of-50) and had 19 turnovers.

"Obviously, very pleased with our defensive intensity. It's one of our best efforts. Alexis Hornbuckle set the tone for how we were going to play on the defensive end," Summitt said.

Hornbuckle had 12 points by halftime, plus five rebounds and four assists. But she slowed down in the second half, finishing with nine rebounds and seven assists.

"We knew they were going to come in here with a vengeance because we beat them on their home court and the SEC was pretty much up for grabs if we lost this game," Hornbuckle said. "They had a lot to lose and a lot to gain, so they were going to come out hard."

In the first half, the teams combined to attempt 52 shots, many on quick jumpers.

Georgia hasn't beaten Tennessee since the SEC tournament semifinals in 2004, a span of six games.

Tennessee grabbed its biggest lead of the first half when Cait McMahan hit a 3-pointer -- off an assist by Hornbuckle -- with 6 seconds left. The Lady Vols went into the break ahead 27-21.

Georgia tied it at 20 with 3:35 left after an 8-3 run capped by Janese Hardrick's driving layup. Then, after two scoreless minutes, Hornbuckle tapped in her own miss.

Lady Vols Entertain Georgia Lady Bulldogs

The #3-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (20-2, 7-0 SEC) entertain the #14-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs (19-4, 6-2 SEC) in a key Southeastern Conference match-up on ESPN2 in a "Rivalry Week" meeting in Knoxville on Monday.

Twenty-two days ago, #4-ranked Tennessee defeated #15-ranked Georgia, 52-41, in Athens.


This is the Lady Vols' 33rd season under Head Coach Pat Summitt...She has compiled a staggering 933-179 overall record... Is just 67 wins away from a remarkable 1,000 career victories...Collected her 900th coaching win with a 80-68 decision over #19-ranked Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, 2006... She passed Dean Smith (879 wins) for most NCAA collegiate basketball wins of all-time with a 75-54 victory over Purdue on Mar. 22, 2005 ...Her 2005-06 squad advanced to the NCAA Elite 8...Finished with a 31-5 overall record and were the SEC Tournament Champions...

This season, UT returned six letterwinners, welcomed a senior manager turned player, two junior college transfers and a pair of rookies...The 2006-07 season marked the Lady Vol debut for former senior manager #10 Elizabeth Curry, JC transfers #00 Shannon Bobbitt and #33 Alberta Auguste...True freshman, #2 Cait McMahan, a 5-4 guard from Maryville, Tenn., and #34 Nicci Moats, a 6-2 forward from Daleville, Va.


In their last game before traveling to Tennessee, Georgia freshman Ashley Houts sank the winning baseline shot at the buzzer, lifting the #14-ranked Lady Bulldogs (19-4, 6-2 SEC) to a come-from-behind 53-51 win over #7-ranked LSU on Feb. 1 in Athens, Ga. Georgia led by seven with less than three minutes left, but LSU charged back to tie the game on a basket by Sylvia Fowles with seven ticks remaining. A fearless Houts then drove the length of the floor to hit the winning shot. With its fifth consecutive victory, the Lady Bulldogs moved into a tie with LSU for second place in the SEC. Tasha Humphrey scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Georgia in the defensive struggle. Georgia shot 30.5 percent from the field and LSU shot 31.5 percent. Georgia trailed most of the game before rookie Angel Robinson, playing with four fouls, scored six straight points to cap a 12-0 second-half run and give the Lady Bulldogs their first lead.


This week, the Lady Vols returned to SEC schedule normalcy and faced South Carolina at home on Feb. 1 (a 72-36 win), and now entertain #14-ranked Georgia in an ESPN2 "Rivalry Week" match-up on Mon., Feb. 5. UT then travels to Auburn on Feb. 8.


A record 21 Lady Vol regular season games are slated for national/regional television this season. Five non-televised games will be available as streaming video with voice-over from Mickey Dearstone on UT is 13-2 on TV this season.


UT is 9-2 in games played on Feb. 5. The Lady Vols are 6-1 at home, 3-1 on the road and 0-0 on neutral courts. The last time out on Feb. 5, the Lady Vols registered a 77-37 victory over Arkansas in Knoxville in 2006.


Last year at this time, the Lady Vols were 21-2 and had just defeated Arkansas, 77-37.


Tennessee will play 15 teams in 17 games and five of the nation's top 10 teams who have been ranked at some point this season in the AP and USA TODAY ESPN polls: North Carolina, Duke, UConn, Georgia, LSU, Stanford, Arizona St., Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, UCLA, George Washington, Texas Mississippi and Middle Tennessee. All have been ranked or are currently ranked.


In all games, this is how Tennessee has shot from the field: 50%FG: Chattanooga (.579), MTSU (.565), Arizona St. (.548), UCLA (.531), ODU/UT-Martin (.509), Stanford (.500); 40%FG: Louisiana Tech (.483), GWU (.482), Alabama1 (.464), Vandy1 (.458), Alabama2 (.453), Florida (.442), West Virginia (.431), Texas (.429); 30%FG: Georgia1 (.396), Miss. St. (.395), Notre Dame (.381), USC (.379), UConn (.371), North Carolina (.362), Duke (.361)


In all games, this is how the opposition has shot from the field: 50%FG: none, 40%FG: Duke (.491), GWU (.472), Arizona St. (.469), Stanford (.456), MTSU (.453), UCLA (.451), North Carolina (.444), Vandy1 (.438), UConn (.433), Chattanooga (.431), Miss. State (.409), Notre Dame (.407), 30%FG: ODU (.396), Alabama2 (.378), Alabama1 (.369), West Virginia (.352), USC (.349), Florida (.345), Georgia1 (.319), Texas (.308); 20%FG: Louisiana Tech (.295), UT-Martin (.204)


Wins: +56 (1), +36 (2), +30 (1), +29 (2), +24 (2), +23 (2), +22 (1), +21 (2), +17 (1), + 16 (1), +15 (1), +11 (1), + 10 (1), +9 (1), +6 (1).
Losses: -13 (1), -4 (1)


The Auburn Tigers travel to a red hot Mississippi State team on Feb. 4. In their last outing, Auburn, 16-7, 3-4 SEC, recorded one of its best offensive efforts ever against Alabama on Feb. 1, when the Tigers defeated the Tide by a 32-point margin, 93-61. It was the largest margin of victory over an SEC opponent since Auburn rolled by Mississippi State by 30 on Jan. 29, 2006. Against Bama, AU's KeKe Carrier returned to the lineup after sitting out the last six games with an injury. In eight minutes of action, Carrier scored five points, grabbed two rebounds and blocked two. Whitney Boddie dished out a career best 12 assists; the most by an Auburn player since Chantel Tremitiere's 12-assist performance on Jan. 2, 1991. In addition, Boddie earned her first career double-double by adding 10 points. Four AU players scored in double figures, led by DeWanna Bonner with 18.


Georgia has turned into a juggernaut, winning five consecutive contests, since Tennessee hung a 52-41 loss on the Lady Bulldogs on Jan. 14 in Athens, Ga., in front of a sold-out crowd at Stegeman Coliseum. UGA's 41 points against Tennessee were the fewest scored by an Andy Landers' Lady Bulldog team in his 28-years on the sidelines for Georgia women's hoops. The all-time lowest scoring total for Georgia was 31 points in its inaugural season (1973-74) versus Berry College.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Summitt Up For Greatness

Pat Summitt talks teaching, retirement and the NBA

Imagine Kobe Bryant or LeBron James not getting back on defense as the man they are supposed to be covering skirts by the defense and scores an easy lay up.

Imagine the coaches chewing their star players out for the blunder they had just committed. "You've got to get back on D," the coach screams. "Get your heads in the game!"

Now, imagine the players' response to their coach, like a puppy who knows it's been bad, they say, "Yes, ma'am."


As ridiculous as that sounds, there is a female coach out there who has realistically considered what it would be like for them to coach a professional men's basketball team.

"I have thought about it," said legendary Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt. "Could it be done? I think it could, though it would be a big challenge for a female to coach men, to have the respect that the men coaches have, because it hasn't been done before."

Don't worry Volunteer fans. If any female coach could make the jump, it would be Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball (men's or women's), but she says she isn't going to be coaching the Knicks next year, or at any time in the future.

"The only person that has really spoken to me about it [coaching in the NBA] is my attorney," Summit said. "He won't leave me alone about it, he won't let it die.

"Every time he talks to me he says, `You gotta coach in the NBA, you've just got to do it.' And I have no desire. I feel like you have the opportunity to have a greater influence at this level than at the pro level. Just being around the pro game, I feel like it is different. It is a job. Those guys, they are really impatient if you don't win and the last thing I want to be is fired."

Getting fired is something Summitt should never have to worry about. After 932 victories and counting, six national championships, 13 SEC championships, 12 SEC tournament titles, 92 NCAA tournament wins, 16 Final Fours, seven NCAA Coach of the Year awards and the prestigious Naismith Coach of the Century award, she's earned some job security.

Taking those stats into consideration, Summitt - in her 33rd season as Lady Vols coach - has essentially garnered every single award, honor and distinction the sport of women's basketball has to offer.

And at the risk of overcrowding the Knoxville-area hospitals with scores of heart attack patients, coach Summitt has won everything she can win in the sport and, if she so desired, could retire from the game, forever labeled the greatest teacher in the sport's history.

At the age of 54, Summitt is not considered old for her profession by any stretch, and there are no physical ailments - knock on wood - that should stop her from coaching any time soon. But the thought of retiring has crossed the Tennessee-Martin alum's mind.

And as quickly as it entered her mind, it exited just as fast.

"It's not like I painted myself in the corner and couldn't do something else," Summitt said. "I just never had the desire to do anything else. I am 54 years old and as long as my health is good, I can see myself coaching another 10 years, but I don't have a time table. I definitely intend to coach at Tennessee for at least six more years."

Exhale Tennesseans, exhale.

"I love being around college campuses and around the student-athletes," Summitt said, thinking fondly of her experiences at UT. "I love the football games and the basketball games and just the atmosphere. I love the teaching part of it. I like the fan support we have at Tennessee, we've led the nation in attendance for a number of years and I just have a great thing going here."

Summitt still craves the action and enjoys every second on the sidelines willing and teaching her Vols to victory. If her passion, love and enjoyment for the game she's been around her entire life ever dissipated, she'd be the first to suggest she step down.

"When it is no longer something that I look forward to or fun, and it's not fun all the time, don't get me wrong," Summitt said, "but if it's not something that I am passionate about - like I love practice, I absolutely love practice with the student-athletes, games are fun, but practice is when you really get to teach and have more of an influence in helping them develop their skills and learn the game - and when that is not fun, than I will not do it anymore.

"I'll know that if I am not having fun, I'm not giving them my all, then I am cheating the student-athletes and I would never want to do that."

In the hip-hop culture that basketball has become, Summitt is a throwback to the days when coaches were mentors, teachers or parental figures, not friends. For all the records and honors she's received, none makes her prouder than being able to say Tennessee has graduated 100 percent of its women's basketball players for as long as Summitt has been coach.

During her early career, Summitt said she was more of a dictator than she is now.

"I think that I have adjusted, and I needed to adjust, to working with young people today," she admitted. "I think when I started out, it was more about my way and that was the only way, and I think as you work with young people you have to get to know what motivates them and find out how you can bring out the best in each and every student-athlete that you work with."

There is one rule that, no matter how long she coaches or how much she adjusts to today's student-athlete, she'd never stand for being broken. There is a reason why all her players graduate...they must attend their classes.

"For me, the way I grew up with my family and the emphasis they placed on academics and going to class, it is just a given," Summitt explained. "I came in thinking that everyone wanted to succeed in the classroom as well as on the court. But along the way I found out that certain student-athletes were not as highly motivated and challenged."

Way back when the coach went by the name of "Trish" and was a student and standout basketball and volleyball player at the University of Tennessee-Martin, Summitt had a no missing class rule for herself that she said her parents instilled in her.

"Because I wasn't ever allowed to miss a day of school, I never missed a day of school in 12 years," she said. "I remember I overslept when I was in college for a class. When I woke up, class had started 10 minutes earlier and I rushed and got dressed. I cried all the way over to my classroom because I guess I thought my parents would find out. I had it ingrained in me and it made a difference for me. I certainly wasn't the smartest student but I was committed to being in class and I knew that would give me an edge and an opportunity to get my college degree."

Back in 1974, as the Dean of Tennesee-Martin was handing a young confident kid her diploma and shaking her hand, there would be no way to tell of the greatness that was to come.

Her career has been one honor, one recognition, one triumph after another. Even in defeat, she has been gracious. For the Lady Vols, she is the epitome of class, and no matter when she does finally decide she's had enough, in Knoxville and across the country, Pat Summitt has impacted the women's game like no one ever has before. Or ever will again.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Summitt to appear on box of Wheaties

Pat Summitt is breaking new ground in, of all places, your local grocery store — on the cereal aisle.

The Tennessee Lady Vols coach is being featured on the cover of a special-edition box of Wheaties, becoming the first collegiate women’s basketball coach to be so honored, said Wheaties spokesperson Tara Johnson.

The image, which also includes UT’s home court and a Lady Vols’ logo on the front, was unveiled at halftime of Thursday night’s game against South Carolina. The back of the box shows Summitt and Smokey, the school mascot.

Johnson said the boxes have been shipped and will be available regionally.

"This makes a tremendous statement, not only for me, the Lady Vols and the University of Tennessee, but for women’s basketball in general,’’ Summitt said.

Wheaties, which began in 1924, started its association with sports in the mid 1930s with a sign on the left field wall at Nicollet Park in downtown Minneapolis.

The Summitt special edition is part of a Wheaties college series that has included such schools as Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

"When we found out they were doing a series of college boxes, that’s when we started lobbying them to do a box about the University of Tennessee and a box about Lady Vols basketball,’’ said Jimmy Delaney, the Lady Vols’ marketing and promotions director.

Summitt was a consensus top candidate. In her 33-year coaching career, she is first among all collegiate coaches at four-year schools with 932 victories. She has led her teams to six national championships.

"There never was a question of who we should be pushing for,’’ Delaney said.

Johnson wouldn’t comment on the financial terms, but Wheaties at least had to pay a licensing fee for the use of Summitt’s image as well as the university logo.

"It’s huge, not only for the exposure; you can look at everything,’’ Delaney said. "It’s a grand slam actually."

No. 3 Lady Vols demolish South Carolina

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Pat Summitt could sympathize with South Carolina's big deficit early. The Lady Vols were down 19-0 in their loss to top-ranked Duke last week. The difference was, the Gamecocks never got back into the game against the Lady Vols.

No. 3 Tennessee raced out to a big lead and clamped down on defense, going ahead 16-0 en route to a 72-36 win over the Gamecocks on Thursday night.

"We've seen it. It's not something you want to live through very often if you're a coach," Summitt said of the early surge. "The more you miss the more difficult sometimes it becomes for a team. We were in the same position with Duke. I didn't know if we'd ever score."

Against Duke, Tennessee (20-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) eventually tied the game but lost 74-70.

Candace Parker and Shannon Bobbitt each scored 13 points for the Lady Vols, who built a big lead in the first half and expanded it in the second half. The Gamecocks (13-10, 3-5) had trouble scoring and holding onto the ball.

"You all watched it. That's probably the poorest display of basketball I've seen from our team as far as poise and execution," South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said. "This was a situation where everything that could go wrong did go wrong for us."

She said getting off to a slow start affected her team's poise.

"When we get out of the gates early, we can roll with anybody," Walvius said. "We got tighter and tighter and went five different directions."

Alberta Auguste added 10 points and Parker had 12 rebounds for the Lady Vols, who shot 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field.

Melanie Johnson and Ilona Burgrova led South Carolina with eight points apiece.

The Gamecocks' total tied for the third-lowest in their history. They have lost by more than 35 points only six other times.

South Carolina didn't get on the board until Johnson scored with 10:12 remaining in the first half.

Tennessee led 37-11 at halftime. South Carolina had the fewest first-half points against the Lady Vols by an SEC team.

"One our weaknesses was playing defense for 40 minutes, so we talked about it as a team," Bobbitt said. "I think we did a great job in the first half."

The Gamecocks had a season-high 34 turnovers and scored their fewest points this year. They dropped to 0-16 all-time in Knoxville.

Tennessee's lead went past 30 with 12:35 remaining, and the game became sloppy with turnovers and fouls.

The Lady Vols built on their lead after South Carolina's first basket and scored the final six points of the first half .

The Gamecocks missed their first six shots and had nine turnovers — four on steals by Tennessee — before their first basket.

They finished the first half with 18 turnovers and were 5-of-17 from the field.

Officials called 43 fouls and Tennessee went 22-of-29 at the foul line. South Carolina was 6-of-13.

South Carolina point guard Lea Fabbri played for the first time since spraining her right ankle Jan. 14 against Alabama. After missing four games because of the injury, she came off the bench in the first half.

Parker was honored before the game for becoming the fastest Lady Vol to reach 1,000 career points. She got there in 56 games, one faster than Chamique Holdsclaw. Parker reached the mark in Tennessee's previous game at Alabama.

At halftime, a new Wheaties box was unveiled bearing the photo of Summitt, the first female coach to be so honored.